Interesting article published today in Slate Magazine, regarding some recent events around corporate cost cutting as the US economy starts slowing down. Sigh. Indeed, the economy does run in cycles, and it seems that all the indicators point to a potential recession... declining housing market, oil prices going down, etc.
However, the article makes an interesting thesis on how large corporations may be nickel & diming their employees (surprise, surprise)... citing Yahoo as an interesting case study: Yahoo has asked its 10,500 employees to either use their vacation days between X-mas and New Year this year, or take forced unpaid leave if they have no vacation days, which given the US standard 10 day vacation balance for most junior employees, has an unfortunately high probability of happening.
This is ludicrous, especially given the fact that this would only save Y! 21m $, which according to this article, is the equivalent of the combined Fiscal '06 salaries of their CEO, CFO and COO. Put that in contrast with the supposed 1 BILLION dollars that Y! is rumoured to be spending on the acquisition of Facebook (a social networking website that's the rage with college students over here), and you can understand some of the frustration in the valley. We drive by the Yahoo building in Santa Clara at least once or twice a week... and I always thought it'd be cool to work there, possibly as a Product Marketing guy some day... I'm having 2nd thoughts... as it seems that they're just like any other cie... nickel & diming their most important assets: their people.
So most of you know that Max and I went on a week vacation to Toronto, mainly to be at Karson's wedding (Karson is an old friend from the Australia days- we used to work at Nortel together).
Canada is a lot like the US - in that the people there speak a very similar language (mainly English), watch a lot of the same TV, and each much of the same food. However... some would say that Canada is a much more open minded country (getting ready for some flaming !!!!). Check out this link called the Canadian Alternative... it's a site to entice "forward thinking" Americans to emigrate to Canada, and is basically an information service desk for those US citizens feeling frustrated at their current country's foreign policy, supposed disregard for the rest of the world from an environmental stand point, etc. etc.
I am by no means an advocate of this kind of rhetoric - however, I thought it interesting given our recent trip to mention this link... as it expresses some of the frustration I have seen in a lot progressive Americans (and there's a lot of those in the bay area).
At long last, the promised write up on Emigrant Gap. Sorry for the delay, but things have been crazy hectic here (Karson's wedding in Toronto (write up to follow), biz trips left right and center, new role at work...) so I have been able to write us much as I wanted to. In any case, here it is:
So we finally went on our very 1st back packing trip. I must admit, I was a bit fearful about this - carrying a fully loaded 50lb back pack, hiking 5-6 miles, then spending a couple of nights with no running water, electricity - just the trees and a river stream and the open stars.
We had a fantastic time - the hike was of moderate difficulty, not too rugged, and not too uphill. We
got to see some beautiful vistas... we headed out with Wes, Yolanda, Wes' brother Dave, our guide Bernardo, and a few others. It was a wonderful crowd, and we sealed some friendships fairly quickly.
On the 2nd day, we hiked another couple of miles into the mountains, and found a watering hole. The water was really cold (i think around 12-13 degrees, possibly less), but hey, we dove in any way ! Oh my god... when I jumped it... I thought my heart had stopped beating - I couldn't breathe at all, and had to scream to get the oxygen back into my lungs... almost scary, but boy it was fun !!!!! We did it all over again. After letting the sun tingle our skin dry, we headed back to camp, to relax, and prepare the camp fire and dinner.
The only black dot on this trip was on our way back, when Max's aunt Yolanda slipped on a large
boulder and broke her ankle in 2 places. The walking stick that she had been using had given in, which caused her to lose her footing. She put on a really brave face (I think I would have been screaming my heart out), and thankfully a couple of red necks driving monster trucks with a confederate flag and bearing "Don't tread on me" tattoos offered to help, and drive her down to the trail head, calling the fire department ahead so that they could meet her with an ambulance.
We headed down, and a couple of hours later met up with Wes and Yolanda.
I definitely was more careful going down back the trail after this. Thank God, Yolanda is feeling
better. I remember tearing all my ligaments in my left ankle 10-15 years ago, acting stupid at school. It was so painful ! So I admire Yolanda's courage in the face of such pain. It is truly, truly admirable (must be a Dutch thing ;-).
Finally, on the way back to San Jose, we stopped at a Chevy's restaurant to have dinner with the whole gang... Chevy's is an american chain of tex-mex restaurants. We never really liked their food, but definitely like their margheritas !!!!! ( you can check out my past reviews of Chevy's here ). Max however, ordered a salad... and imagine her dismay when she got it --> it had a latex glove hidden in the middle of it ! (gross !!!!!). No real profuse apologies from management at the time, and they even charged us for the salad !!!
Thank God, Max decided to complain (as did Yolanda, and even Bernardo). Thankfully, the regional manager of Chevy's was a nice guy, and profusely apologized for the mishap, and offered to give us 12 vouchers for free meals at Chevy's and a full reimbursement of the 200$ bill. Now that's what I call service. Only in the US of A (yeeeehhhhhaaaa!).
So all in all - a great trip, with memorable experiences, beautiful vistas, and a free meal to boot ! Max and I can't wait to do it again, and we will. First around all the wonderful nooks and crannies of the bay area, but also Yosemite, Yellow Stone, Big Sur - there's so much to do here, and we've only barely scratched the surface after a year!
So it was an adventure ! But Max and I definitely developed a taste for the open air on this trip. We look forward to the next one!
Ok, I've uploaded some of the pictures of our trip to Toronto. These revolve mostly around Karson and Maria's wedding. I'll uploaded the pictures of Toronto proper in a few days. The write up will follow around the same time.
Hey ! It's been a long time since my last update - just goes to show how busy things have been over here. A lot has happened since my last post: I've been to Australia and back for a 2 week business trip, Max and I went with Wes, Yolanda and made some new friends on back packing trip near the Sierra-Nevada mountain range, we've been looking for a new apartment, I've celebrated my 10 months of smoke freedom, I'm moving into a new role in Product Management @ Amdocs, my sister Debarati is getting married. Well basically, a lot of things have been happening.
First things first though, I really do need to upload the pictures of the backpacking trip and tell our story of Labor day weekend...